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Williamsville votes to hire attorney to fight mask fine from Erie County health department

Village board members voted 3-2 to appoint attorney Todd Aldinger to represent them.

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — During a special virtual Williamsville Village board meeting Thursday night, board members voted 3-2 to appoint attorney Todd Aldinger to represent them in a legal matter against the Erie County Department of Health.

Last week, the county health department fined the village $300 after a January 10 board meeting where Mayor Deb Rogers among others were seen not wearing a mask.

According to the stipulation, an Erie County health department Investigating Public Health Sanitarian went to the board meeting and witnessed "willful violation" of the mask mandate.

During Thursday's special meeting, Trustees Christine Hunt and Eileen Torre voted against hiring counsel and supported the village paying the fine.

"This $300 ticket could easily cost the village $10,000 or more just to fight it, whether we win or lose our legal defense. It is time for the members of this board to bring this episode to a close by there vote here tonight. Someone has to sign a $300 check and the settlement stipulation. That someone should be Mayor Rogers," Torre said.

Mayor Deb Rogers spoke about the citation and said the county is targeting the village when there are many other towns that share their views.

"If we as public servants, which is what we all are, don't base our decisions on common sense and say enough, more families will be hurt, more businesses will be closed, more kids will be forced to wear masks in schools all day," Mayor Rogers said.

During a COVID update on Tuesday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said to his knowledge Williamsville is the first municipality to be cited by the Erie County Department of Health.

He said the mask mandate is necessary due to the Omicron variant spreading in Western New York.  

2 On Your Side asked to interview Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein on Thursday about this but was told she was unavailable.